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  • Writer's picturejodi

Things They Don't Tell You in Nursing School

Updated: Feb 24

Like all Nurses I have seen things that cannot be unseen.

Things that sit in the crevices of my brain

and then chasse like a ballerina to the forefront of my mind.

These memories gracefully glide in,

seemingly out of nowhere.

But most often triggered by some sort of reminder.


As I type these words, I hear in my mind’s ear that this is giving hints of PTSD.

Although that was not the intent, there seems to be an element of truth to it.

I’m sure we all have a dash of PTSD sprinkled on our hearts.

Peppered in our souls.

Some maybe even have a few dollops.

Others possibly carry around an entire Cup.

I mean truly,

how can you be a compassionate, empathetic human,

do this job, see all we see and not have been rocked to your core at some point in time.

Especially if you worked at a time when ‘Debriefing’ was not even part of our vocabulary.

It doesn't make you weak, it makes you human.

And even if debriefing was or now is,

these moments of honour,

moments of being with someone taking their last breath,

there is no shield to protect your heart and soul.

So these memories that softly chasse to the forefront of my mind, are not always of a graceful sort.

But my soul has been honoured to be a part of them.


I came here to write about my recent PMU experience.

If you’re not certain what PMU is,

PMU = Permanent Make Up.

That is what I was coming here to write about.

But that story will have to wait.

Because as I stirred my Greens, I was flooded with a different memory.

A memory of a patient.


This memory dances in so vividly that I could be watching it on a Projector screen.

Like an old school ‘home movie’.

The edges of the screen may be a titch tattered and torn.

And the film slightly faded around the perimeter.

The characters movements somewhat jerky and spastic.

I can hear some words. Make out some dialogue.

But the main plot of the ‘home movie’ is square in the middle, crystal clear.


It is in this simple moment of stirring my powdered Greens that I am brought back to this death of a young patient.

A tragic death that brings a lump of cotton to my throat and makes the liquid hard to swallow.

I remember the ways it impacted me as a Mother and as a Nurse.

I remember how it showed me a side of a colleague that I never wanted to see.

And in this moment I become acutely aware as to why,

until recently,

I had not drank Greens in over 15 years.

At the time that this ‘home movie’ was filmed,

I drank a glass of Greens right before I went in for my night shift.

That night said patient also ingested Greens prior to coming in to hospital.

And her body purged as it was letting go of this world.


The following day when I opened my canister of Greens and inhaled the scent

of dewy grass in summer morning sun,

my chest filled with grief.

As I put it to my lips…

the smell of it,

the taste of it,

it was too much.

I dumped it down the drain and threw out the canister.


And here I sit nearly two decades later.

I feel that I am healed from this experience but the cracks seemingly still remain,

they are just glued together.


That is one of the things that they don't tell you in Nursing School,

the profession carries a lot of grief.


Over my career I’ve heard words coming off of a shrug “well, it’s your job”.

Sure.

It is.

So I’m not looking for kudos, or credit, or pity.

Most of us aren’t.

And I know many professions experience similar circumstances, I am not in any way discrediting that.

I am only writing from experience that I personally know.

I cannot speak to other professions, because THIS is the one that is mine.

So as I share all of this,

I am not looking for anything other than your consideration to acknowledge that we are also human.

With beating hearts and sometimes bleeding souls.

But mostly we are bodies that are filled with souls that shine a bright light.

We are passionate about what we do, we just often need to armour ourselves to do it.


Historically in my experience,

we have been expected to carry on for an entire shift,

despite the circumstance,

persevere; Unaffected.

To be almost inhuman.

But we are collectively the most humane people that I have ever known.


There is no crutch,

no splint,

nor surgery

that protects us or heals us from the bruises of the job.


But we do have each other.

I’m here.

I’ve got you.

I’m only a keyboard away.


jj

xo

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